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Sun Jun 1, 2014, 06:12 PM

Panama's Canal Divides A Country Into Haves And Have Nots

Panama's Canal Divides A Country Into Haves And Have Nots
by Tim Padgett
June 01, 2014 5:06 AM ET


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Panama has seen seen dramatic growth since taking over the Panama Canal in 2000 from the U.S. That prosperity can be
seen in Panama City's rapidly developing skyline. However, many have not yet seen the benefits and the country still
suffers from widespread poverty.


Arnulfo Franco/AP[/font]

Jorge Quijano has one of the coolest office views in the Americas: the Pacific port entrance to the Panama Canal. The panoramic vista seems to help Quijano, who heads the Panama Canal Authority, see the bigger picture.

On the one hand, Quijano understands why Panama has run the canal so effectively since the United States handed it over in 2000.

"When the United States built the canal, it was treated like a non-commercial utility, like a water filtration plant," Quijano told me in an interview at his Panama City headquarters. "We're running it as a business."

One that's expected to rack up revenues of more than $2.5 billion in 2014, and which moves 330 million tons of cargo in and out of the Western Hemisphere each year. But Quijano, while stressing that he's an engineer and not a politician, also concedes that more Panamanians need to see more of that wealth.

For starters, he says, "Panama has to strengthen its education," which is rated among the world's worst. "There's so much investment coming into Panama now, but if we don't have trained people, those investments will go elsewhere."

More:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/05/30/317394468/panamas-canal-divides-a-country-into-haves-and-have-nots?ft=1&f=1001




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